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Hello from M6NSV

Yes, some of us keep our 817 in the backpack on a permanent basis. It doesn’t mean I get out any more often, but I have all the kit in one place which saves time when preparing for an outing. I have more trouble packing my bag for the overnight stay in the Travelodge!

Welcome on board Neil. Hope to work you on a summit or maybe S2S one day.

73, Gerald G4OIG

Something that has not been mentioned yet, don’t take too much kit.

By that I mean decide before hand which bands you are going to use; 40m and 20m are the bread and butter of the HF bands where you are going to find it easiest to make contacts with low power. With the proviso of propagation variations of course. Other bands can be very good as well but not guaranteed to be open when you are on a hill!

Try to work out before hand the minimum you need for an activation by not taking too much surplus kit you will probably not get round to using. As has already been said, try out the system (radio, antenna, battery-pack) somewhere close to home before venturing out on a hill, you want to find any issues before an expedition especially deploying the antenna.

By far the easiest way to start SOTA is to use 2m with a reasonable antenna though.

Before an activation alert with a time and make sure you have a way of self-spotting, there are plenty of people waiting to make contact…


My holiday kit; https://flic.kr/p/CyYx93

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Except if you try most of EI/IN where getting a contact on 2M is like finding the proverbial hens teeth with gold fillings :smile:


Victor (EI/) GI4ONL (/P)

Hi Victor

I should have added … when near population centres :smile:

Ah yes Neil - if you are going to self-spot when you are ready to start, a smart phone app or simply preparing what you will send as an SMS (you need to register your phone number with Andy for SMS to work) before you go is a good idea, as is taking a phone that will work from the summit - Cell phone coverage on different networks vary a lot, which is why I have a dual-SIM smartphone.

When you get to the summit check you have a cellphone signal, if not, you may be able to move to the other side of the summit (and still be in the activation zone) where a signal may be OK. From personal experience setting up antenna and gear and only THEN realising you don’t have cell phone coverage from the operating location you have chosen is a pain.

My activation pack options: http://vk2ji.com/equipment/sota-equipment/

73 Ed.

And if you can’t chose between them, opt for the golden 30m band! It’s pretty reliable into the near continent and no contests either.

Make life easy. Place an alert before you leave home, work CW and let RBN do the hard work :open_mouth:
Life is to short to faff around with unreliable cell phones technology :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Welcome, you’ll soon find your own niche…

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Hello Neil

Very glad to hear that you are joining us and particularly happy that you are chasing on VHF/UHF as that is what I use on the hills and more activators/chasers are always welcome (especially on UHF - I had to give up with only 3 70cm contacts on Fan Fawr (SW-005) in the Brecon Beacons on Wednesday but plenty of 2m contacts).

I use a handy (Yaesu VX7 max 5w) with an overflow waterpipe dipole (as light as possible!) which is usually very successful - as long as enough people within range are listening! Mid-Wales is a bit of a challenge, as you might imagine, but longer distances are possible. I was very pleased to have a summit to summit (S2S) on 2m with GW4TQE on Moel Elio (NW-022) from Pen y Fan (SW-001) and a 70cm contact from Fan Fawr to M1BPW in a car in Midsomer Norton in the Mendips so the range is not as limited as some people expect IF you are high enough.

You have been given much advice on what you shouldn’t leave behind but no-one has mentioned PEGS which I have managed to forget on two occasions. I only need 3 and I improvised with a walking pole the other day when one went and hid but having none at all when the wind is strong and it is raining (of course) does make tucking the dipole in the crook of my arm and also writing and holding the radio more like an (incompetent) juggling act. Not losing your log afterwards is also a useful idea!

I would agree with the warning that SOTA can be addictive but you are likely to have a lot of fun and go to some interesting places that you would otherwise never get round to visiting (eg Flounders Folly on Callow Hill (WB-015) near Craven Arms. Has anyone else activated the tower?? I had no difficulty in getting permission.) I look forward to the first S2s with you.

73 Viki M6BWA

I agree entirely Pete, but Neil is an M6 and recently licensed… the band is a jewel for him to experience at some point in the future unless he is already morse proficient. Working inter G and across to the States in the same activation does give a certain buzz.

Neil, you will find your own niche after a few activations and then you may wish to expand your horizons as you gain experience. Have a dig around this reflector to see what people have said over the years about what should go in your backpack. Make up your own mind on what has been said to determine a starting point and then trim or add to the kit to suit your own requirements. Start out on some local summits and then move further afield as you feel the need, I certainly agree with Viki that SOTA takes you to places you wouldn’t otherwise go and you will see many things you wouldn’t otherwise see.

73, Gerald G4OIG

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Welcome Neil!

The great thing about SOTA is that it is just like the radio hobby itself, a very wide area of interest. Like others have said, you’ll soon find your own niche.

I can’t really say that I’ve had a major disaster on a SOTA activation, the only thing I can remember was my antenna pole snapping in fierce wind on a Scottish summit last year. Some adhesive dressing strip was liberated from my first aid kit to patch up the pole and I had a successful activation.

Two major areas in equipment will need to be researched - which rig will you use? How will you power your radio?

Searching the reflector will bring up much discussion about both topics.

Don’t be put off by the fact that HF CW seems to be the most popular mode of operation, it’s just that CW works so well for SOTA and the thrill of working long distances on HF is just magic!

Remember to ask plenty of questions on the reflector, the collective knowledge is vast.

73, Colin M1BUU

As Neil says, don’t be put off by the fact that a lot of people use CW (I don’t for one, but that’s personal choice). I have worked EU-VK summit to summit with 5w SSB on a few occasions so you don’t HAVE to run CW to get DX, it’s just more difficult with SSB.

Good that you are considering activating on VHF, If I understand correctly, that’s where SOTA started for many people. As others have said within SOTA there are choices to be made; Just chasing, Just activating or both, HF or VHF, CW or SSB or data, QRP or more QRO, easy or diffcult to access summits when activating etc. etc. The most important points are to be safe and to have fun!


Well what can I say, what an amazing welcome & I must thank you all again for all the fantastic advice, I think I’m going to enjoy my time here.

Thanks also to Tom M1EYP for the link to his web page, some great insights into so many summits & I’m sure I will be referring back to those pages again & again as I plan my trips, Tom we did speak briefly on the 29/12/15, at 16.15 you were doing a quick activation of G/SP-015, & I also made contact with Jimmy M0HGY on 31/12/15 at 10.48 as he was activating G/SP-004, so great to speak with you both & thanks for the chaser points, hope to do it again soon.

Also, I was especially thrilled to make two contact with Vicki M6BWA today as she was activating the Brown Clee G/WB-002, & G/WB-004 Titterstone Clee Hill those summits are about 25-30 miles from me & her signal on 70cm was absolutely cracking & crystal clear, her 2M signal was also good despite her antenna troubles, many thanks Viki for the contacts & all the good advice, looking forward to a S2s at some point.

Hopefully it won’t be to long now before I have all the kit I need to make my first activation, thanks to everyone for the help & I hope to speak with you soon.